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Governor's Deer Hunting Opener: Events in Breezy Point to be geared toward public, youth

Though not as big as the annual Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener, another state tradition to showcase the outdoors has Breezy Point and Pequot Lakes as the host cities.

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Though not as big as the annual Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener, another state tradition to showcase the outdoors has Breezy Point and Pequot Lakes as the host cities.

The Minnesota Governor's Deer Hunting Opener is scheduled Thursday-Sunday at Breezy Point Resort, hosted by the Pequot Lakes Chamber of Commerce.

"We're bringing it back home, so to speak," said Matt Kilian, Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce president, referring to the event that started 14 years ago at Cragun's Resort in East Gull Lake.

The event is a partnership among Gov. Mark Dayton's office, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Explore Minnesota Tourism and the Pequot Lakes Chamber. The local MDHA chapters are the Bluewater chapter in Pequot Lakes and the Brainerd chapter.

"Gov. Dayton is not a deer hunter, but he supports the event," said Bri Stacklie, MDHA event and publications coordinator who has chaired the event since 2009. It started in 2003 with then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and the lakes area is the first community to host the event for a second time.

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Stacklie said the event promotes deer hunting in Minnesota and what the pastime does for both the state's economy and deer population. Kilian said the event showcases the Brainerd lakes area as an outdoors destination, and allows the many chamber members who have outdoor products and services to showcase them.

The Governor's Deer Hunting Opener is similar to the Governor's Fishing Opener (hosted in the lakes area two years ago at Grand View Lodge and eight years ago at Breezy Point Resort) in that both events are for the media and to expose the Brainerd lakes area as a place to do everything outdoors related, said Jenna Crawford, Pequot Lakes Chamber director.

The hunting opener event differs, though, in that more events are geared toward the public. That includes the opportunity for about 20 area hunting hosts to take media and dignitaries into the field Saturday, the opening day of the firearms deer season.

Anyone interested in being a hunting host can contact the Pequot Lakes Chamber at 218-568-8911.

The event will focus on youth, with an outdoor expo planned Thursday where fifth-graders at Pequot Lakes Middle School will be bused to Breezy Point Resort to participate in various events to expose them to the sport of hunting. The DNR representatives will visit students at school beforehand to talk about the outdoors and the expo.

A free, interactive outdoor expo is planned later that day for the public, and area businesses and organizations are being sought to do live demonstrations. Thursday events will include a Mystery Box Chef Challenge Cook-off, where area chefs prepare a one-pot meal to be judged; a Bad Axe Award Competition, where people can test their outdoor skills; as well as a blaze orange photo where as many people as possible will dress in blaze orange and have their photo taken at 5 p.m. at Dockside at Breezy Point Resort.

Tickets will be required to attend a Welcome to Camp Banquet featuring a venison dinner and Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts performance of "Twas the Night Before Deer Camp."

Half a million Minnesotans are expected to participate in the 2016 firearms season. Kilian said the Brainerd lakes area offers a fair amount of state land for hunting, which is attractive to hunters who don't have a base camp for hunting.

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Event schedule

All events will be at Breezy Point Resort unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, Nov. 3

Noon-3 p.m.: Youth Outdoor Expo for Pequot Lakes students.

4-6:30 p.m.: Outdoor Expo at Breezy Point Resort featuring demonstrations by various vendors.

4:30-6 p.m.: Mystery Box Chef Cook-Off.

5 p.m.: Blaze orange photo lakeside by Dockside.

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5 p.m.: Bad Axe Award Competition. Register at the DNR booth to test skills at air rifle shooting, identifying various scat, tracks and hides, hometown trivia and more.

4:30 p.m.: Welcome to Camp banquet social begins.

6:30 p.m.: Welcome to Camp dinner and program ($35 per person) featuring a gourmet venison dinner, a chance to participate in raffles and auctions, and a live performance of "Twas the Night Before Deer Camp" by the Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts.

Friday, Nov. 4

5 a.m.-noon: Live radio broadcasting at Breezy Point Resort.

Noon: Media representatives and dignitaries have free time to check out the Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point area or their host camp to do some scouting.

Saturday, Nov. 5

Half hour before sunrise: Hunting season opener.

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